Monroe County Courthouse workers are trying to keep warm after the building's boiler quit last week.
Among those happiest to see this week’s taste of spring were employees at the Monroe County Courthouse in Paris. For over a week many of them have been wearing extra layers of clothing to help keep warm after the building’s boiler “died.”
“It was warm outside. When I left work at 5 o’clock I couldn’t believe how nice it was,” said County Clerk Sandra Francis, referring to the 60-plus degree temperature seen Monday. “We should have opened the windows. We would have been more comfortable.”
On Wednesday of last week the courthouse’s 21-year-old boiler sprung a leak.
“It broke in the fire box so it was spraying water on the burner. We couldn’t fix it,” said Presiding Commissioner Mike Minor.
“We got pretty cold that afternoon,” said Francis of last Wednesday, when the daytime high in Paris only reached the mid 30s.
The commissioners immediately took steps to provide a new heat source.
“We have a 120,000 BTU furnace on the first floor. It’s kind of keeping it bearable, but it gets down to about 58 (degrees) in some of the offices,” said Minor.
“It isn’t warm and toasty, but we’re not freezing to death,” said Francis, adding that many offices supplement what the furnace is cranking out by running space heaters. “You have to dress warm. It isn’t like coming to work like it used to be. You have to dress for it.”
Despite having so many space heaters running, Minor isn’t afraid of taxing the building’s wiring.
“All of the courthouse has been rewired,” said Minor, adding that the heaters being utilized “don’t pull very many amps. If they pull too many amps it will kick breakers.”
A replacement boiler is already on order, according to Minor.
“The new one is supposed to be here by the end of the week or first of next week,” he said. “The old boiler is already out. We’re rigging up a way to get the new one down in there.”
Minor feels fortunate to have located a new boiler so quickly.
“It was the only one available we could find right away. Everything else was going to take six weeks to get here,” he said.
The new boiler, which is coming from Pennsylvania, will cost a “little over $18,000,” according to Minor, who says that expense will be covered through money set aside in the county’s Sales Tax Renovation Fund.
The cost to the county could have been far steeper.
“It’s the same kind (of boiler) that we had so we can save money by not having to re-pipe everything,” said Minor. “We can also use the burner off of ours (old boiler) on this new one.”
Once the new boiler is installed, it will have to be inspected by a member of the state fire marshal’s office before it can be fired up.
Minor is keeping his fingers crossed that the new boiler will be cranking out heat “by the end of next week or the first of the week after that, if we’re lucky.”
In the meantime, though, some frigid weather is in the forecast. Thursday night’s low in Paris is forecast to dip to 3 degrees above zero.
“It’s a big, brick building and when those rock blocks get cold they stay cold,” said Minor. “Friday (morning) will probably be the test. It’s supposed to be pretty cool Friday. We’ll have to see how we get along.”
“We’ll just have to put on more layers, or wear our insulated coveralls or whatever it takes,” said Francis. “It’s better than working outside.”